If you are an expat resident in France, you are likely to be wondering about how your expat status affects your place in France’s Covid vaccination programme. Will you be entitled to the vaccine, and what will it depend on? Do you need to be registered with the public healthcare system, do you need a carte vitale, and what happens if you have your own private insurance and are not reliant on state healthcare? If you have a place in the vaccination queue, will it be related to your age and state of health, for instance? We will take a look at the current situation as regards expats and the Covid vaccine in France.
The main point to be aware of is that the French government intends to vaccinate everyone regardless of their citizenship status. The Ministry of Health says that:
“Everyone residing in France will be invited to get vaccinated according to the prioritisation of groups as outlined in the vaccination campaign…Seeing as this is a public health issue, unregistered people as well as those in precarious situations [such as the homeless] can get vaccinated for free.”
You will not need a carte vitale in order to be vaccinated, although it is advisable to make sure that you are registered with your local clinic as some expats have reported difficulties due to not having a social security number and there is sometimes a discrepancy between what governments intend and what actually happens! The exceptions to the programme are expats who have second homes in France, and tourists.
You will need to take ID with you, such as a passport or your carte de séjour, and as an expat it might also be a good idea to take proof of address such as a utility bill with you. You will need to fill out a straightforward health questionnaire and sign a consent form prior to your vaccination. You will be asked to stay in the centre for 15 minutes after your vaccination in case of any side effects.
Your vaccination will also be free: be very wary of any communication you have which asks for bank details – you do not need to give any bank information.
At the time of writing, France’s vaccination programme is open to those over 75, those in high risk health groups, and frontline health workers. If you are in this group and you have not yet been vaccinated or had a letter from your doctor, you can book an appointment online via Doctolib, Maiia or KelDoc, or via the government’s vaccination helpline: 0800 009 110 (7/7 from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.)
Doctolib is available as an app on your phone and you will need to register. It may not have details of all the vaccination centres on it yet. If you prefer to receive your jab at your local doctor, this is likely to be an option at some point but will depend on the vaccine: there are logistical issues with the Pfizer/BionTech vaccine due to the temperatures at which it needs to be stored.
Those in the 65 – 74 age group are next in line.
The AstraZeneca vaccine was due to be rolled out on February 6. The government says that it will be reserved primarily for health personnel, then for people aged 50 to 65 with co-morbidities and ultimately to all 50-65 years.
If you are interested in the way that the French rollout is going, since the programme did draw some fire early in the year for being slow, you can check up on progress on Data.gouv.fr.
You may also find the following sites of use:
- Ministry of Solidarity and Health (information on vaccine policies and Covid-19)
- Haute Autorité de Santé (HAS) (information on vaccine recommendations)
- vaccination-info-service.fr (for information on vaccination)
Overall, the advice for expats in France is: do not worry, because you will have the chance to be vaccinated, it will be free, and you will be alerted in due course as to the date and place of your appointment.